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Mom: Hopeful signs seen in Jahi McMath, teen deemed brain dead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The mother of a 13-year-old California girl who was declared brain dead after suffering complications from sleep apnea surgery said she has seen changes in her daughter's condition that give her hope.

Doctors have declared Jahi McMath brain dead, and medical experts say she cannot be revived.

However, the girl's mother, Nailah Winkfield, said in a letter posted Wednesday on Facebook and Twitter that she believes her daughter is doing better since she was removed from Children's Hospital Oakland last month and taken to an undisclosed facility.

"Despite what people say about my daughter being dead and how I must be ignorant not to get that, I can tell you that she is much better physically since she has left Children's Hospital and I see changes that give me hope," Winkfield said in the letter.

She didn't give details of Jahi's condition or disclose her location. Jahi's family has said the girl has been fitted with feeding and breathing tubes while remaining on a ventilator.

Jahi underwent tonsil surgery on Dec. 9 and began bleeding heavily before going into cardiac arrest. Doctors declared her brain dead on Dec. 12 based on exams and tests showing no blood flow or electrical activity in her cerebrum or the brain stem that controls breathing.

Winkfield has refused to believe Jahi is dead and went to court to prevent the hospital from taking her daughter off a ventilator.

Medical experts have said a ventilator won't work indefinitely for Jahi and caring for a patient whom three doctors have said is legally dead is likely to be challenging.

The bodies of brain-dead patients kept on ventilators gradually deteriorate, eventually causing blood pressure to plummet and the heart to stop, said Dr. Paul Vespa, director of neurocritical care at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has no role in Jahi's care. The process usually takes only days but can sometimes continue for months, medical experts say.

In her letter, Winkfield also expressed gratitude for the emotional and financial support she has received from people around the world.

"If I had it my way, I would say thank you to each and every person in their native language so they could understand how much I appreciate them for all their support and, most importantly, prayers," Winkfield wrote.

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impossibledreamr February 20 2014 at 5:56 PM

Bless her heart, I certainly understand Ms. Winkfield not wanting to believe her beloved Jahi is dead, but I am afraid that her inability to accept the loss of her daughter is just going to add to her heartbreak when she finally has no choice but to accept that Jahi is gone. I cannot imagine sitting with my beloved child each day and watching her body break down in front of me. My thoughts and prayers are with Jahi and her family. I wish Ms. Winkfield could have gotten her miracle...I do understand that where there is life there is hope, but a body existing because machines perform all bodily functions isn't really life...although in Ms. Winkfield's place, I might want to believe it is too. None of us want to lay a precious child to rest. This is a heartbreaking story, and sadly the heartbreak continues. I hope soon Ms. Winkfield will be able to allow Jahi to rest in peace.

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sef69 February 20 2014 at 6:08 PM

No coming back from brain dead,,,Sad...but this is the kind of situation that is killing health care. We cannot spend millions on hopeless situations...where others could have real life changing outcomes

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3 replies
mskyu February 20 2014 at 6:08 PM

I would not want anyone to put me on a ventilator. If I cannot breathe by myself, then I would say that my body is NOT working, brain dead or not. And if my body is not working, please pull the plug. If the body continues to breathe, then that is some kind of sign, and DON'T pull the feeding tube, for that is starvation and murder for sure. Remember Karen Ann Quinlan? I believe hers was the first case like this. Her parents FOUGHT to have the ventilator REMOVED for the same reason I wrote here, but kept the FEEDING tube going, and visited her every day until she couldn't breathe on her own anymore, and died. That is something to think about.

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guy February 20 2014 at 6:12 PM

guess what, taxpayer money is involved here. wasting medical facilities and doctor and misc. other caretaker time for nothing. when taken off, she will probably want her frozen for future help.

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Bill February 20 2014 at 6:12 PM

Winkfield wrote: "....I would say thank you to each and every person in their native language..."? Where is this "facility" located and how much is it costing to perpetuate this family's delusion?

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commonncentsz February 20 2014 at 6:13 PM

I wonder how much money she has received and how much health care covered. Sounds to me like greed has moved in.

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1 reply
vern2044 commonncentsz February 20 2014 at 6:23 PM

sorry to tell you this, but you should not wonder how much money this mother received from the public, it really is non of your business , and if her faith in God is strong to believe her child is not dead, that is enough.
you see some people put a lot of trust in the doctor and yet they do not hold life, God is always in control, only God give life and only God takes life so I say to the mother keep the faith.

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1 reply
bob vern2044 February 20 2014 at 6:41 PM

How come all these Jesus freaks can't use spell check

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kanga573 February 20 2014 at 6:13 PM

This is what happens when you take science out of the schools - idiots who don't get that brain dead is DEAD.

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1 reply
goodgrief61945 kanga573 February 20 2014 at 6:19 PM

Even worse, with no blood flow to her brain, it's actually rotting . These parents are going to regret their decision.

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1 reply
m.k.goodwin goodgrief61945 February 20 2014 at 6:25 PM

Zombie infestation !

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fox12ga February 21 2014 at 7:36 AM

Before an opperation that could have left my son a vegetable The last thing he asked me is to pull the plug if the worst happend I would want the same thing if it was me There was never any question that I would honor his wish. No one should have to live in that condition.
I didn't have to do it thankfully. And thanks to the good doctors at Dartmouth Hitchcock Med Ct. in Lebonon NH

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theola2 February 20 2014 at 9:46 PM

I believe in miracles, and I feel strongly that this mother is holding on for her miracle for heartfelt reasons.. Faith and strength with continue to carry her through. I have prayed and will continue to pray for God's awesome arms to draw this family into a bosom of protection and pure love. If nothing else, we are all blessed to gaze upon a young lady , that have the most beautiful smile; a smile that brings joy and peace, and a reason to continue to pray.

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mbrheljr February 21 2014 at 7:06 AM

This poor, poor woman.

While I wholeheartedly respect her dedication to her daughter, I hope she isn't deluding herself.

One of the reasons we rely on professionals, aside from their training and experience, is their objectivity.

That age old expression "physician heal thyself" doesn't apply here...

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